The design of the giants

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The design of the giants

Postby Glumpuddle » Aug 08, 2017 12:34 pm

There's one bit in the David Magee interview that is easy to overlook:

(18:17) "We all think of giants dressing a certain way because we've all seen Jack and the Beanstalk. But, is that really what they always look like? Or have to? Or should? Is that what [Lewis] had in mind?"

This seemed only vaguely related to the question we were discussing. So, was David hinting at something? Can we expect the design of the giants to be really different from what we've seen before? Maybe so different that they will do them as CG characters?

I have always thought of the giants as looking just like large humans, which makes the idea of them eating Jill and Eustace really disturbing. And I like that. So, my gut instinct is that I hope they don't break the human form too much.
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Re: The design of the giants

Postby narnia fan 7 » Aug 08, 2017 1:35 pm

I don't think I'd be against the ettinsmoor giants looking s little more inhuman. But I think it's important for the Harfang giants to look, dress and act mostly human. Most giants you see in stories are kind of dumb and clumsy. The Harfang giants are the only ones I've ever seen that seem mostly human. I wonder if that's what Magee was referring too.

I thought it was interesting that Magee brought up the scale of the giants. That's something I always think about when I read the book. I like to have an idea of how big everything is in relation to Jill and the rest. I can't wait to see how they scale it for the movie.
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Re: The design of the giants

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Aug 08, 2017 10:56 pm

(18:17) "We all think of giants dressing a certain way because we've all seen Jack and the Beanstalk. But, is that really what they always look like? Or have to? Or should? Is that what [Lewis] had in mind?"

Now that is a good question. So far in CON we have only met two Giants: Rumblebuffin and Wimbleweather, and neither of them were particularly fearsome. Both were valued allies of the good side. And now in SC we are meeting Giants whose intentions are more morally ambiguous. How does C.S.Lewis intend giants to be drawn? Big, probably, just like Gulliver's Giantish acquaintances of Brobdignang. In Gulliver's Travels, the giants he meets are supposed to contrast with the picky Lilliputians who were the first people he met. But as intimidating as great size might be, is that the only critierion we should be looking at? Over and over, C.S.Lewis tends to depict his Giants as not really bright of intellect, whether good or bad.

In Ch 5, when meeting Puddleglum, we start to learn about these Giants. Eustace references Caspian's defeat of those Giants at the beginning of his reign, whilst Jill feels braver when she realises that Eustace also has some fear of these Giants. Yet in SC we have also a Ruined City of the Giants, Giant bridges, probably leading to that city, and the leading characters are given a recommendation to a Giantish facility which can look after their accommodation needs. So what do we make of them?

@ Narnia fan 7: I do see what you mean. But I also get the impression that is the way the BBC TV production of Silver Chair handled the giants. The Ettinsmoor giants were depicted as less human and more giantish and the Harfang Giants were more like Tudor gentlemen, like Shakespeare's Falstaff writ large. The nurse in that production was almost of human size, and was probably the same actress who also read the part of the nurse in the BBC audio drama of Silver Chair. And yes, oversized, giantish humans are quite alarming enough. The trouble is, that really, how big do we need them to be? Too big to ride a horse comfortably? But not so big that they would terrorise a normal sized Rottweiler or Alsatian (German Shepherd)?

As David Magee mentioned in that interview, scaling the size of the giants is important in designing it. It matters not only in the size of the thimble Glumpuddle, oops, Puddleglum, drank from, but also the size and scale of how to do furniture etc. It will be necessary for consistency. And that is why we do need a rethink of what the Giants are. Are there really two different sorts of Giants? Or are they really all the same sorts of Giants depending on what sorts of people lead them to make their own moral choices?

However the giants are drawn I'd go the opposite way to what you are suggesting and what is portrayed in the BBC TV version. I'd make the Harfang Giants rather similar in size and humanity or non-humanity to the Ettinsmoor Giants. It is in individual differences that distinguish individual giants, same as with dwarves and the earthmen later on. When a Talking Stag crops up on the menu at Harfang, it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine that they have more to do with the Ettinsmoor Giants than LOTGK might let on. I, for one, would not be surprised to recognise the huntsgiant whom Puddleglum overheard at lunch, as being the same giant they met after they left Ettinsmoor, but wearing different clothes. In fact the main difference to make LOTGK 's description of both groups at the Giant's bridge at all valid, should be the way they are dressed.

My idea is to dress the Ettinsmoor Giants in military uniform, but not necessarily new, spick and span, military uniforms. I imagine a motley, untidy crew getting bored of having little to do, whilst manning the garrison at the Ettinsmoor border with Narnia. Maybe they would be camouflaged to fit into the landscape, to play down their military presence there. When they are observed by passers by, having been caught out moving against the skyline, they usually have enough time to organise themselves, by playing that game so dreadfully, with enough tantrums and fisticuffs to warn off those passers-by who might get in their way, whilst quietly dispatching one of their number to let Harfang know what is happening, maybe that messenger being able to grab a Talking Stag along the way. ;)

The Harfang Giants, on the other hand, would be dressed in the sort of civilian clothes that mirror how the Lady of the Green Kirtle would dress, herself. Except that giantish clothes needn't necessarily be green, apart from the outfit the Queen wears when the Giants go hunting. That Puddleglum could drink from a thimble suggests they do know something about sewing and clothing repair, but the ill-made toys suggest the giants might not be all that skilled with embroidery etc., either, let alone the intricacies of dyeing material, or fashion, in general. A distinct contrast with the delicate skill Trumpkin's folk like to use in their workmanship, such as in jewellery, ornamentation, and in making weapons in other books.

I suspect the main difference between the two groups of giants should be in their differing functions rather than how human or non-human they are depicted. And that the reason why it was alarming to go to Harfang was, not that Harfang giants are really gentler than Ettinsmoor giants, as LOTGK claimed. Rather, when Jill and Eustace arrive there, on closer inspection they turn out to be much the same giants but on their home turf.

Just because CON giants, apart from being visually impressive, and useful in combat, might overall seem not very bright, doesn't mean they mightn't know a thing or two in ways nobody considers. There has to be a reason why in most of the Chronicles they are depicted in some battle or other, whichever side they happen to be on. And why is there a ruined city of the giants anyway?
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Re: The design of the giants

Postby AJAiken » Aug 10, 2017 2:41 am

It would be interesting if the Harfang giants are perhaps trying to relive the glory of the ruined city by replicating (or trying to replicate) the splendour of those days but without the same technical skill ... perhaps overblown court costumes, etc.

Magee's comment made me think of films like Jack the Giant Slayer and The BFG where the giants (except the BFG himself) are half-dressed and presented as large barbarians. I would certainly like to see more refined giants - more like the BFG, though not quite as friendly I suppose!
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Re: The design of the giants

Postby Anfinwen » Aug 10, 2017 7:57 am

I agree AJAiken. I think the Harfang giants are just as crude, corse, and awful as the Etinsmoor giants. They have higher technical skills which allow them to deceive travelers. Honestly I think the book is quite clear. They dressed up a lot and made things but badly and in poor taste.
As regards the size, I think the illustrations and the thimble story (and Guliver's Travels) really gave me the wrong idea. The giants have to be small enough that multiple giants and the travelers can all be fed from the same stag, and multiple giants obviously expect to dine on Eustace and Jill. Also Jill is able, by herself, to get up on a bench and then the table. Jill thinks she could get comfortable in a pie dish, but is that laying flat or curling up? The illustrations make them look about the size of a Barbie doll would be to us, but in my opinion, the more logical size is that of an 18in./American Girl doll. (Sorry for the girliness there, but I couldn't think of a better way described the proportion.)
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Re: The design of the giants

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Aug 12, 2017 9:31 pm

Never mind the "girliness", Anfinwen, as your conclusions are still as valid as mine are. :D We are discussing proportions and measurements, which, judging by my less than illustrious girlish mathematics career, are about scaling the size of giants, and not about 100% accuracy in maths, which I am incapable of being, except for calculating the number of maths problems I would need to endure to dignify the subject by calling it math. :D When those sorts of things happen in school, one or the other girl in question, unless they fight mightily to change their fate, may find themselves doomed to less well-paying occupations, such as working in hospitality and in retail. /:)

Real life Down Under, plus the obiquitous police RBT and Responsible service of alcohol laws, suggest that a giantish thimble of whichever deadly spirit in square bottles which both giants and marshwiggles favour, might be more than enough to make Puddleglum drunk, depending how large he, himself, is drawn, even if the more appropriately sized marshwiggle size equivalent is relatively small in size. In one of our local department stores you can buy fine glasswear that is appropriate for every need, no matter how impressive the occasion. Champagne flutes, wine glasses, ordinary standard-sized tumblers, right down to whisky shot glasses. However, how large is this last sort of glass?

As I also commented in Glumpuddle's interview transcript post, these are those small artistic glasses, that are often for sale in souvenir shops, where tourists might not want to spend as much of their spare currency as the shopkeepers are hoping for. ;) Puddleglum tends to take mouthfuls of his square bottle contents, and it probably is some sort of spirits (ie, whisky, gin, vodka, brandy, rum etc). which accounts for the nasty taste when Eustace and Jill sample whatever it is.

A standard beer glass or a water tumbler, would be of a different size to a wine glass, which, in turn, would be at least twice as big as a whisky glass. And the stronger and more alcoholic a drink is, the smaller the appropriate glass used. So maybe the giants don’t have to be quite as large as is implied for Puddleglum to get drunk on a thimble full of whisky, for example. Even if the giant is tree-sized. Depending on the height of the tree, of course. Especially as whisky for giants might be a good deal more strongly alcoholic than whisky for marshwiggles. =)) Just saying.

If the giants are made too big, how is the much greater in size, Father Time, going to be depicted? That is, if he is included at all?

Anfinwen wrote:Jill thinks she could get comfortable in a pie dish, but is that laying flat or curling up? The illustrations make them look about the size of a Barbie doll would be to us, but in my opinion, the more logical size is that of an 18in./American Girl doll. (Sorry for the girliness there, but I couldn't think of a better way described the proportion.)


It depends on how a man pie is cooked, with what sorts of pastry, herbs, vegetables and accompaniments and in what sort of gravy. Both Eustace and Jill aren't really small children and are nearing their teen years, so for a small entree, they might well be enough to feed a whole army of giants in some sort of entree. The same applies to the bigger size of the Talking stag, especially as the lunch at Harfang did not include those giants who hadn't returned yet from the hunting trip, and also because left-over roast meat can be used later to supplement other foods on the autumn feast menu.

One thing that occurs to me about C.S.Lewis' ideas about giants and dwarfs is in another of his writings, The Great Divorce. In this book he wrote of a very tall man being led on a rope by a rather cheerful dwarf. They are met by a lady who reminds one of Lucy in Narnia, but who seems to be in some sort of close relationship with the dwarf and the tall man. The dwarf is happy to see her, and greets her. But the tall man starts moaning about how she cared more for everyone else than she did himself. The more he moans the taller he gets and the more the dwarf shrinks. The image painted of an encounter in Heaven is rather striking, I thought.

How would that image where giants and dwarves can be a sort of ying to each other's yang affect the way both are depicted?

Could it be that the Ettinsmoor giants and the Harfang giants also follow this pattern in some way?
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Re: The design of the giants

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Sep 04, 2017 12:09 pm

I've always thought that the Ettinsmoor giants will really blend in with the scenery of Ettinsmoor, naturally camouflaged and almost looking like they are growing out of the land itself. What I think might be interesting, though, is if the Harfang giants look much the same as these giants except they are obviously trying to conceal the crudeness of their appearance. They are biologically similar, but the Ettinsmoor giants melt away into the landscape while the Harfang giants intentionally hide this natural camouflage and stand out like traffic lights instead because of their garish clothes, made up faces, and trimmed and dyed hair and beards.

In MN, the Talking Animals are warned not to go back to the ways of the Dumb Beasts lest they cease to be Talking Animals completely... I wonder if the wild, unnatural fashion of Harfang could possibly be grounded in a fear of turning back into the land? The Giant Pire, after all, turned into stone and became a mountain after Olvin of Archenland rescued Lady Liln, and the giants of Ettinsmoor are so crudely formed that Jill mistakes them all for rocks at first. It doesn't seem like a completely unreasonable fear for the Harfang crowd to have, especially if they've heard the tale from Archenland.
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Re: The design of the giants

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 05, 2017 12:00 am

@ Rose-Tree Dryads: Yes the giants were bound to know about that story of Archenland, because when reading The horse and his boy there is in Edmund and Lucy's battle preparations to relieve Anvard, a troop of Giants, wearing big spiked boots. One of them tried to stomp on Rabadash but only tore his hauberk.

I don't think of the giants as necessarily evil, but somewhat unruly. I take your point about Fair Olvin and the Giant Pire being turned into stone. Stone colours and camouflage seem to be mandatory then.
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